Metrics and models to support the development of hybrid information systems
The research described here concerns the development of metrics and models to support the development of hybrid (conventional/knowledge based) integrated systems. The thesis argues from the point that, although it is well known that estimating the cost, duration and quality of information systems is a difficult task, it is far from clear what sorts of tools and techniques would adequately support a project manager in the estimation of these properties. A literature review shows that metrics (measurements) and estimating tools have been developed for conventional systems since the 1960s while there has been very little research on metrics for knowledge based systems (KBSs). Furthermore, although there are a number of theoretical problems with many of the `classic' metrics developed for conventional systems, it also appears that the tools which such metrics can be used to develop are not widely used by project managers. A survey was carried out of large UK companies which confirmed this continuing state of affairs. Before any useful tools could be developed, therefore, it was important to find out why project managers were not using these tools already. By characterising those companies that use software cost estimating (SCE) tools against those which could but do not, it was possible to recognise the involvement of the client/customer in the process of estimation. Pursuing this point, a model of the early estimating and planning stages (the EEPS model) was developed to test exactly where estimating takes place. The EEPS model suggests that estimating could take place either before a fully-developed plan has been produced, or while this plan is being produced. If it were the former, then SCE tools would be particularly useful since there is very little other data available from which to produce an estimate. A second survey, however, indicated that project managers see estimating as being essentially the latter at which point project management tools are available to support the process. It would seem, therefore, that SCE tools are not being used because project management tools are being used instead.